Bets suspended for Christmas No.1

All bets are off for the Christmas number one, according to a leading bookmaker which has suspended betting on the Military Wives taking the top spot.

Gareth Malone’s choir, brought together on the BBC2 series, have released a single, Wherever You Are, inspired by letters to and from their soldier husbands which will raise money for forces’ charities.

Ladbrokes closed the book on them when they were 1/20 favourites ahead of current chart-toppers Little Mix at 8/1.

Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes said: “As far as punters are concerned it’s a done deal. The money says the Military Wives will deservedly get this year’s Christmas number one.”

The choir, who have been backed by figures such as Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans, performed at this year’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall and at the Strictly Come Dancing semi-finals.

Even Simon Cowell appears to be supporting the women ahead of the manufactured girl group.

The X Factor supremo tweeted: “Congrats to Little Mix & congrats to Military Wives. It’s a great cause & a worthy Christmas No.1”

There was more bad news for the girlband when it was revealed their cover of Damien Rice’s Cannonball had achieved the worst first week sales for an X Factor victor’s winning song since 2004.

Figures show that despite the huge exposure of the group with more than 15 million viewers tuning in to watch The X Factor reach its climax, the track sold 210,000 copies in its first week.

That’s less than half of 2010 winner Matt Cardle’s first week tally of 439,000.